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Event raises money to provide lifesaving medical care


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Brighter future: In this photo from last April,  Thiombiano Razak, 8 months, is held by host family member Brandie Stoneking at a Rotary Club lunch. Surgery to repair a hole in the baby's  heart was made possible through the Rotary's Gift of Life program.
Brighter future: In this photo from last April, Thiombiano Razak, 8 months, is held by host family member Brandie Stoneking at a Rotary Club lunch. Surgery to repair a hole in the baby's heart was made possible through the Rotary's Gift of Life program.


GREENFIELD — Greenfield’s Rotary clubs will have their 14th benefit this Saturday to help give the gift of life to children in developing countries.

The fundraiser for the Rotary’s Gift of Life program will include dinner, live and silent auctions and a raffle at the Washington Park Community Life Center in Indianapolis. The event begins at 6:30 p.m.

Event chairman and local founder of the Greenfield Gift of Life, Tony Campbell, said most of the event’s 250 tickets have been taken.

“It’s close to sold out,” Campbell said, adding that some seats might become available as the evening approaches.

Last year was the best year, in terms of fundraising, in the program’s history. More than 200 items were sold, resulting in about $56,000 for Gift of Life, which makes lifesaving medical care available to children in countries where the care is not otherwise available.

“It’s a two-pronged effort,” Campbell said. “Children are either brought over here for the care or teams are sent overseas to work there.”

Last year, Greenfield’s district helped transport four children to the United States for critical surgeries, two from the West African country of Burkina Faso, one from Kosovo and one from Ghana.

In early March, a Riley Children’s Hospital heart team, led by Dr. Mark Turrentine, will return to Amman, Jordan, to perform five surgeries. Another trip is planned for the end of April, said Greenfield physician Dr. Stephanie Kinnaman, who serves as the district’s Gift of Life chair.

Program funds help support Turrentine’s trips, Kinnaman said, as well as training trips to Kampala in Uganda, where U.S. teams travel to train local health-care providers in cardiac procedures and care.

Kinnaman, who will travel with Turrentine in March and again later this year on the training trip to Uganda, said the program continues to help African doctors improve their skills. A fourth trip is tentatively scheduled for the fall.

Kinnaman said previous efforts have improved knowledge and techniques there, and perhaps more importantly, heightened the Ugandan government’s awareness and funding for a cardiac center, where surgeons can acquire more time operating and keeping their skills current.

“It’s really exciting to be part of this and see these kinds of improvements,” she said.

Kinnaman said the Ugandan cardiac facility has recently become the only one of its kind in east-central Africa, making efforts to improve there even more critical.

This year, Campbell said, donated auction items are off just slightly from 2012, but bidders will still have the opportunity to vie for top-shelf articles such as a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; jewelry; a day of fishing; and for thrill-seekers, a racing experience at Anderson Speedway.

Campbell said the clubs have no predetermined goal for this year’s benefit.

“The people here have been so generous that we’ll be pleased with whatever we get,” Campbell said.

Washington Park Community Life Center is at 10612 E. Washington St.

Cash donations can be made payable to the World Community Service Foundation with a memo entry “Gift of Life” sent to Greenfield Rotary Treasurer Shannon Jump at P.O. Box 1, Greenfield, IN 46140.

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